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Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today submitted testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks in support of a bill to rename the library at Ellis Island in honor of entertainer Bob Hope.

In her written statement, Senator Feinstein expressed her support for the legislation to honor Bob Hope, who immigrated to the United States at age four and went on to gain great fame and entertain millions. 

The legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) and was overwhelmingly approved by the House with a vote of 420-1 on March 20, 2007. 

 The following is Senator Feinstein’s written testimony:

“Mr. Chairman, I would like to testify in support of H.R. 759, a bill to redesignate the Ellis Island Library, located on the third floor of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, as the ‘Bob Hope Memorial Library.’

Bob Hope may very well be the most widely-known immigrant to have passed through the Ellis Island Immigration Station – although when he arrived as a four-year old he was still known by his given name: Leslie Townes Hope. 

And the story of this young boy, who later changed his name to Bob Hope and was adored by so many, truly exemplifies the American Dream:

  • As a young boy, he left England with his family and immigrated to the United States.
  • His family struggled financially for years after they arrived.
  • To help support his family, he left school early, took on odd jobs, and even boxed for a short time.

Later, when Bob Hope became successful, he was celebrated and loved by millions of Americans. 

In his many foreign tours entertaining America’s soldiers abroad, he brought to them the warmth and the good humor that they longed for from their far-away homes.

Bob Hope is a great symbol for the Ellis Island story, because he was keenly aware that we was an immigrant, of how far he had come, and how passionately grateful he was for it. 

Ellis Island is known to the world as a symbol of the possibilities that America offers.  And the ‘Bob Hope Memorial Library’ will continue to catalogue real life examples of that possibility.

The Ellis Island Library includes: 

  • a reading room,
  • a preschool children’s reading center,
  • an archive for controlled storage of valuable paper artifacts, and
  • a room designed to provide access to the library’s collection of more than 1,000 oral histories. 

As the Park Service describes this library: ‘It is a resource devoted to the American experience and the stories of those who came to America with hopes and dreams of a better life.’

And Bob Hope embodies this American experience. 

In 1990, when Bob Hope learned that he might receive a similar honor during his lifetime, he was both ‘thrilled and gratified.’

In that letter, Bob Hope shared an anecdote from his first moments arriving in the United States:

‘[I] saw the first glimmer of this great nation of ours as a 4-year-old boy in knickers and had no idea of the opportunities that lay ahead.  Frankly, my only concern back then was running away as fast as my little legs would carry me from the doctor who came to inoculate me before landing at Ellis!’

I know that the Park Service has suggested that other remarkable American immigrants could equally be associated with Ellis Island.   This may be true.   But I think this approach misses the point.  

For a place that is a shining example of what America can offer, isn’t it more powerful to hold up individuals whose extraordinary lives exemplify that opportunity? 

The Bob Hope Memorial Museum can inspire visitors with his life and the stories of others like him. 

Naming this museum after Bob Hope will help to give a face to the American dream.

I hope the Chairman will move the bill quickly, and my colleagues will support its enactment.   Thank you.”